Friday, May 20, 2011

Good Lord, has it been THAT long?!

(migrated from my Tripod blog on 11/05/2011)

Conceited Jerk Dot Com is approaching its tenth anniversary.

I'm shocked, too.  It means I've been posting this drivel for a bloody decade!

The site has had its ups-and-downs, extended periods of inactivity, a three-year hiatus while I shifted focus to Web 2.0, and a longer (concurrent) period where I just didn't give a shit.

But through it all, I've kept it going.  Largely out of sheer stubbornness, but also because I do (on rare occasions) have something meaningful to share.

On that note, I'm planning on doing something for the site's Tenth Anniversary on January 28th, 2012.  I have a few ideas of what I'd like to do (such as an updated version of my title page, which I've already redesigned for contemporary monitors!), but I'd also like to hear a few (realistic) suggestions from my friends, readers, and hangers-on... apart from suggestions such as "posting regularily", "coherent content", "sexy photos", and "shutting up/down completely", that is...

Drop me a line in person (Cherenkov, we gotta go for a beer!), in private, via email, via social media, or even here in the comments section.

Click here to see the site's humble 2002 beginnings!

Friday, May 6, 2011

"Don't Mess With Me, I Watch Ultimate Fighting!", and Alas, Poor Biebs...

(migrated from my Tripod blog on 11/05/2011)

Jillian and I were walking through our local mall yesterday afternoon, grabbing a few essentials for the week, when we saw the funniest thing we'd seen in some time.  A surly looking, heavily-tattooed fat man swagger-waddled out of the local mixed  martial arts fanshop, chest puffed out and glowering at passersby.

I  walked by him with a bemused smile on my face, which caused the man to  sneer a sneer that I swear said "I'm the toughest man in the mall,  because I shop at the local MMA fanboy shop!", and the equally-toned look he shot us was priceless.  At which point I burst out laughing.
The guy shot me another look, but otherwise just kept walking.

I'd  largely put the encounter out of my head.  But for some reason, it was  all I could think about during the commute this morning.

I have no idea why it amused me as much as it did.  I mean, as someone who studied martial arts (Kendo), I know the sheer amount of work and training these MMA fighters do, and the discipline they have. The very notion that this guy could be transformed from lardass to badass simply by wearing a Tapout shirt  and sweatpants is laugable...

Speaking of discipline, I realized how out of shape I really am.

About a month ago, I bought a call bell for our front counter at work.  Experience told me I should affix a sticker that read "Please ring bell ONCE for service", otherwise we'd have idiots hitting it a few dozen times to announce their presence.

With that in mind, I also made up a sign that read "Prices increase 5% with each additional ring" and slipped it under the bell.

It has worked so far, at least as far as our customers are concerned.  Staff, on the other hand...

One of our counter guys has a habit of ringing the damned thing and encourages others to do so as well, knowing how much it annoys us.  Today, it was our youngest member of staff's turn.

The lad, an 18 year old whom we'll call "Biebs", decided he wanted in on the joke.  After the first ring, I got up from my chair, walked out of my office and into the counter sales area, and saw Biebs giggling like a schoolgirl.

"Time to have me some fun," I thought...

"Biebs, we love ya and all that," I began my warning, "but if you ring that fucking bell again, I'm gonna stuff it into one of your smaller orifices!"

He reacted in mock horror, and I turned around to walk away, waiting to hear the bell.

Biebs didn't disappoint...  He rang the bell like an angry telegrapher on speed.

I ran over to the counter, grabbed the bell in my palm, and proceeded to chase the lad around the showroom.

Biebs was quick... a little too quick for 38 year-old CJ, so I figured I'd draw him into MY game.

After our first lap, I half-pretended to be out of breath.  Pulling a loonie from my pocket, I walked over to the vending machine to grab a Coke, as though I were signaling my defeat.

Our fellow coworkers (who'd put Biebs up to it and egged him on) laughed and started razzing me.  I smiled... all part of my plan.

Right on cue, Biebs ran over to me and smacked me upside the head.

"I'm younger and faster!" he giggled.  The guys all roared with laughter.

Obviously, young Biebs has never seen Fried Green Tomatoes.

As he trotted away, I bent down, grabbed the ends of the floormat he was running on, and pulled.

Poor Biebs went flying, landing on his face.

"Face it, kid," I mocked, "I'm older and have seen better cartoons!"

 At which point, the guys nearly all fell over laughing.  The boss, who was coming out to tell us to knock it off, bust a gut when he saw what had happened.

So, today Biebs learned a lesson about Tom and Jerry, and not to screw with people older, wiser, meaner, and better versed in cartoon hijinks than himself.

Rick Hanson, R.I.P.

(migrated from my Tripod blog on 11/05/2011)

I received some sad news in my inbox this morning.  Rick Hanson, genial proprietor of Club 100, succumbed to cancer last Saturday.

Club 100 was the place to go for all things related to the TRS-80 Model "T" line of portable computers: the Model 100 and its successors, the Models 102 and 200.  I myself have been an avid user of my Model 100 for nearly seven years, and a fringe* member of the community.

*this link leads to a pdf, the final issue of 300 Baud magazine, which includes a Model T hardware review I wrote!

I'd never met Rick, and I didn't really know him personally apart from a few email exchanges on the Model 100 mailing list (and when I placed orders via the Club 100 website), but he really struck me as a genuinely nice fellow who truly cared about what he did and the people in the community.

If there was one thing about Rick that stuck with me, it was his humble sentiment that "Club 100 isn't me... you are Club 100, you are the community, and I am only a small part of it".

I never met you, Rick, and I barely even knew you, but I do know that for someone who was only a small part of the community, you've left some pretty big shoes to fill.

Truly a great loss.

Rest in Peace.

(Written on my Model 100.  It seemed only fitting.)

A lot of memories came flooding back as I wrote the above piece earlier this evening.

It'd been a while since I'd used my Model 100 (aka Gibraltar) for blogging.  Truth told, I kinda missed it.  Gibraltar saw frequent use in the years between Nadia's demise(s) and her subsequent resurrection(s), whenever I needed a reliable mobile blogging solution.

It was great - instant on, full-sized keyboard, and a spartan display devoid of distractions.  Best of all, the computer ran for MONTHS on 4 AA batteries!  And I never, EVER thought that 32K of RAM would be plenty in this day and age.  (I also relished the attention I received at the coffee shop whenever I brought Gibraltar out to write an article!)

Those were the days.

Sadly, I fell away from the blogosphere for a while... and apart from the odd Retrochallenge or retrocomputing article, Gibraltar was largely left to gather dust.  But now that the writing bug has bitten me again, I suspect that he may be seeing more frequent use.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A friendly reminder to get out there and vote!

(migrated from my Tripod blog on 11/05/2011)

Just a friendly reminder, whether you're pulling for Count Chocula, the Video Professor, or J.R. Ewing, to get out there and vote today.

Make your voice heard.

(CJ's note 1/19/2015:  the candidates referenced above were: Michael Ignatieff (Liberal), the late Jack Layton (NDP), and Stephen Harper (Conservative), respectively).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Devoted, Sentimental, Stubborn, or Cheap?

(migrated from my Tripod blog on 11/05/2011)

After my recent experiences with Moblogging on my Palm Treo 650, I have decided against using the smartphone as my primary mobile blogging device.

It was a bit Hellish. Okay, maybe that's being a tad melodramatic, but suffice it to say, things weren't as easy as I'd hoped.  The solutions that worked on one of my blogs didn't on another... and NOTHING seems to work with Tripod's blog creator.

After careful consideration, I decided that if I was serious about blogging, it was time to bring my beloved Nadia back from the dead yet again.

Longtime readers of my old blog Conceit and Sociopathy will remember Nadia, better known as my 1999-vintage Powerbook G3 Lombard.  I've had her for a loooong time now, and I have this habit of breaking her sound/power board (most recently, by tripping over the power cable and breaking the internal connector).

This model of Powerbook is well-known for its easily broken sound/power board, therefore replacement parts are readily available for about $20.  I'm considering buying them in bulk!

I'm often asked why I bother fixing a twelve-year old (as I write this) laptop that's prone to breakage, when laptops nowadays are cheap?

Is it because I'm devoted? Not overly.  I love the Lombard's screen, form factor, size, and weight, but its speed (400MHz) and lack of recent web browser and USB 2.0 put me off some days... although I can work quite happily with the last supported Safari or Firefox, Ecto (blogging app) still works, and USB 2.0 can be added simply by buying a USB 2.0 Cardbus card.

Is it because I'm sentimental? Maybe a little.  I've had Nadia for several years, and I used her to write my first blog and synced her to my first iPod and iTunes account.  She's been on several trips wih me, and we've been through a lot together.  So, yes, I do have a sentimental attachment to the old girl.

Is it because I'm stubborn?  Absolutely.  I've had Nadia apart more times than I care to admit, and am well familiar with her internal workings.  I can pretty much take her apart and reassemble her in my sleep, and replacing the aforementioned sound/power board is a twenty-minute affair.  I have the knowledge and ability to keep fixing her, and when she's fully repaired she works well.  Why would I want to replace her?

Is it because I'm cheap?  You'd better believe it.  With our upcoming wedding, home renovations, the purchase of a car in the near future, and children in the not-too-distant future, money is gonna be tight.  While I could shell out a few hundred for another laptop that'll be just as obsolete in a couple of years, why bother?  I can do everything I need on Nadia, and I have the know-how to keep fixing her when she does break.

So yes, I am devoted, sentimental, stubborn, cheap, and probably insane.  Ultimately though, I keep fixing Nadia because I can.

At any rate, it feels great to be blogging on a regular basis again.  It helps that my fiancĂ©e Jillian is an avid blogger/writer as well, and she serves as a big inspiration to me, even if we blog about vastly different subject matter.
I'll see you later this week, when I liken life to a certain infamous video game.